Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Long, 28, was found dead in the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday. Dean said it's believed he killed himself.
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A gunman opened fire around 11:20 p.m. PT at the crowded country-and-western bar about 65 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles, sending hundreds fleeing, including some who used barstools to break windows and escape. Police said hundreds were inside at the time.
Among the dead was sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot multiple times as he entered the building.
Dean said Helus, a 29-year veteran of the force who was set to retire soon, died in hospital early Thursday.
"It's a horrific scene in there," Dean said during a news conference Thursday morning. "There's blood everywhere."
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He Died a Hero. Ventura Sheriffs Deputy Killed Trying to Stop Gunman in California Bar Shooting
Dean said around 10 other people were injured and taken to local hospitals. Others had fled and taken themselves to hospital. People had been hiding in bathrooms and the attic of the bar, and some escaped by breaking windows, Dean said.
The mayor of Thousand Oaks said next-of-kin notifications are being prepared about the people who were killed and wounded.
President Donald Trump ordered that flags be flown at half-mast at the White House and all public buildings in the U.S., as well as at overseas diplomatic and military sites until Saturday evening, to honour the victims.
Dean said Long was acting alone, armed with a Glock 21 — a .45-calibre handgun designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber. But the sheriff said the gun had an extended magazine that is illegal in California.
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Long joined the marines in 2008. He served in the war in Afghanistan for seven months beginning in late 2010, the Marine Corps said, and was awarded multiple ribbons, commendations and medals.
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Dean said his department had previous contact with Long, including a call to his home in April, when deputies found him behaving irate and irrationally.
The sheriff said a mental health crisis team was called at that time and concluded that Long did not need to be taken into custody.
Other prior encounters were a traffic accident and an incident in which Long was the victim of battery at a bar.
Dean said there is nothing that would lead him to believe terrorism was the motive, but it has not been ruled out. Authorities hope to learn more when a search warrant is served at Long's home in the nearby community of Newbury Park.
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The gunman was tall and wearing all black with a hood over his head and his face partly covered, witnesses told TV stations at the scene. He first fired on a person working the door and then appeared to open fire at random at the people inside, they said.
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People screamed and fled to all corners of the bar, while a few people threw barstools through the windows and helped dozens to escape, witnesses said.
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"I was just with friends and I saw the shooter walk in, and he reached up to the counter like he was going to put an ID or some money up on the counter to pay his cover charge," said Knapp, who lives nearby. "And I just kind of saw it in the corner of my eye and I heard a gunshot, and I focused on him and I saw that he was holding a handgun and he continued to shoot at the girl at the front desk."
"The rest of the place, about 600 people, were picking up stools and furniture and anything they could, to break through the glass in the back of the bar to escape," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor and her friends were at a table by the door as the gunman opened fire. She said everyone yelled "Get down!" and it was silent for a couple seconds, then she heard "Get up, he's coming!" and people were trampling on each other to get out.
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"It was really, really, really shocking," Whitler told KABC-TV as she stood with her father in the Borderline parking lot. "It looked like he knew what he was doing."
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"I dropped to the floor," she said. "A friend yelled 'Everybody down!' We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered."
Listen4:11Patrons threw barstools through windows in a desperate attempt to escape a gunman at a country-and-western bar in southern California late Wednesday.
The bar is a popular hangout for students from nearby California Lutheran University. It's also close to several other universities, including California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark. The bar's website says it hosts "College Country Night" every Wednesday.
Dean said that Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the force who was to retire soon, was shot as he arrived on the scene and died in hospital early Thursday.
Cal Lutheran, with about 4,300 students, has cancelled classes and said on its website that the university community is invited to gather Thursday at the school's chapel.
The sheriff's office said a procession will take place at 10 a.m. to transport Helus via motorcade from Los Robles Hospital to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office in the city of Ventura.
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Shootings of any kind are rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000. It was named the third safest city in the U.S. for 2018 by the website Niche.
12 dead in mass shooting – World News
"I've learned it doesn't matter what community you're in," Dean told reporters when asked if he was surprised this happened in Thousand Oaks. "It doesn't matter how safe your community is. It can happen anywhere."
California shooting witnesses tell how they broke windows with bar stools to escape
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At a news conference Thursday morning, Ventura Country Sheriff Geoff Dean said Long was found dead. Police believe he shot himself, but are not yet sure of the details that led to his death.
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The killer was identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former machine-gunner and decorated combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan who authorities said had an episode of erratic behaviour last spring that they were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder.
Screaming in fear, patrons rushed for the exits, ducked under tables and hurled barstools to smash second-floor windows and jump to safety as gunfire erupted at the Borderline Bar & Grill, a hangout popular with students from nearby California Lutheran University.
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“I dropped to the floor,” Sarah Rose DeSon told ABCs “Good Morning America.” A friend yelled, Everybody down! We were hiding behind tables trying to keep ourselves covered.”
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The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a veteran sheriffs sergeant who was the first officer inside the door, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
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The bloodshed was the latest in what seems to be a never-ending string of deadly mass shootings that are happening with terrifying frequency across the United States.
Video: Thousand Oaks: Mass shooting reported at California bar – BBC News
It was the deadliest such attack since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“I tried to get as many people to cover as I could,” Knapp said. “There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didn’t really know what was going on. There’s a fence right there so I said, ‘Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can,’ and I followed them over.”
President Donald Trump praised police for their “great bravery” in the California attack and said, “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.” He ordered flags flown at half-staff in honour of the victims.
Police: Twelve killed in California bar shooting
Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45- calibre designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, according to the sheriff. But it had an extended magazine — one capable of holding more ammunition — that is illegal in California, Dean said.
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The killer also deployed a smoke device, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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Authorities began a search of Longs home in Newbury Park, about 5 miles from the Borderline bar, for clues to what set him off.
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF.—Using a smoke bomb and a handgun, a hooded former Marine dressed all in black opened fire during college night at a country music bar in Southern California, killing 12 people and sending hundreds fleeing in panic before apparently taking his own life, authorities said Thursday.
“Theres no indication that he targeted the employees. We havent found any correlation,” the sheriff said. “Maybe there was a motive for this particular night, but we have no information leading to that at all.”
Dean said his department had several previous contacts with Long, including a call to his home in April, when deputies found him angry and acting irrationally because of what authorities were told might have been PTSD. A mental health specialist met with him and didnt feel he needed hospitalization.
Dean said the other prior encounters were a traffic accident and an incident in which Long was the victim of a battery at a bar.
People comfort each other as they sit near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on “college night,” wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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The Marine Corps said Long served from 2008 to 2013, rose to the rank of corporal and was sent to Afghanistan in 2010-11, receiving several medals and commendations.
"The shots kept going and going and going." Terrifying accounts coming out of shooting at bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. @wusa9 Multiple people are dead, including the shooter pic.twitter.com/NOoEiZ7PiX
Several dead in California bar shooting
The gunman was tall and wearing all black with a hood and his face partly covered, witnesses told TV stations. He first shot a security guard standing outside, then went in and opened fire on staff members and patrons, the sheriff said.
Silikula said she heard the sirens of emergency vehicles two or three minutes later, then received a call from her daughter warning her that there had been a shooting.
Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman arrived at the Borderline around 11:20 p.m. in response to several 911 calls, heard gunfire and went inside, the sheriff said.
Helus was immediately hit with multiple gunshots, Dean said. The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died early Thursday at a hospital.
By the time officers entered the bar again, the gunfire had stopped, according to the sheriff. They found 12 people dead inside, including the gunman, who was discovered in office and had apparently shot himself, the sheriff said.
“Theres no doubt that they saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect,” said Dean, who was set to retire on Friday. He praised the slain officer — a close friend — as a hero: “He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price.”
13 dead including gunman in shooting at California bar
In addition to the dead, one other person was wounded by gunfire, and as many as 15 others suffered minor injuries from jumping out windows or diving under tables, authorities said.
People at the bar fled from all exits, broke through windows and hid in the attic and bathrooms, the sheriff said.
“Unfortunately our young people, people at nightclubs, have learned that this may happen, and they think about that. Fortunately it helped save a lot of lives that they fled the scene so rapidly,” he said.
Police: Thirteen, including the gunman, killed in California bar shooting
Shootings of any kind are extremely rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles (64 kilometres ) from Los Angeles, just across the county line.
The Borderline, which includes a large dance hall along with several smaller areas for eating and drinking, was holding its regular “College Country Nights” when the attack took place.
Nick Steinwender, Cal Lutheran student body president, told KTLA-TV he immediately started receiving messages about the shooting, and he and his roommate went to the scene to offer rides back to campus or moral support.
At Least 12 Killed in Mass Shooting at Thousand Oaks Bar in California, Gunman Dead
“Its going to be a very sombre day,” Steinwender said. “I know we dont have all the details in yet, but you know, it just feels like its an attack on our community. You know, I think its going to be something that were going to have to come together and move past.”
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The bar is also close to several other universities, including California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, Pepperdine University in Malibu and Moorpark College in Moorpark.
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Cole Knapp, a freshman at Moorpark, said he was inside the bar when the shooting began, but he thought at first that it was “just someone with an M-80, just kind of playing a prank.” Then he said he saw the gunman, wearing a small black head covering and black hoodie and holding a handgun.
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“I tried to get as many people to cover as I could,” Knapp said. “There was an exit right next to me, so I went through that. That exit leads to a patio where people smoke. People out there didnt really know what was going on. Theres a fence right there so I said, Everyone get over the fence as quickly as you can, and I followed them over.”
“I screamed to him, Theres a shooter in there! He was kind of in disbelief, then saw that I was serious,” Knapp said. He said he had friends who hadnt been accounted for.
Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor with her friends nearby when she saw the gunman shooting and heard screams of “Get down!”
“It was really, really, really shocking,” Whitler told KABC-TV as she stood with her father in the parking lot. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.”
California shooting: 12 DEAD as gunman storms Thousand Oaks bar and opens fire
The slain sheriffs officer was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, choking back tears.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriffs sergeant who was totally committed,” Dean said, “and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives.”
AP journalists Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.